A lot more than just six days of exercising had gone into our Gigathlon experience. From deciding to participate to kick-off meetings, equipment purchases, training weekends, preparatory races and organisational challenges, there was a bit of everything.
Cold, hard numbers
But of course at the heart of it was running, swimming, inline skating, road biking and mountain biking. And some more sports. From when we signed up in November 2012 until we started the race in July 2013, I did exactly 295 hours, 44 minutes and 34 seconds of training:
- 1368 km running (including 1 marathon with preparation)
- 1274 km cycling (lots off-road, hence the small number!)
- 20 hours 11 minutes of strength training
- 135 km of swimming
- 13 km of walking (in a “training setting”, that is)
- 17 minutes of transitions
- 279 km of cross country skiing
- 89 km of inline skating
- 18 km of snowshoeing
resulting in 3176 km overall, with 48’400 m elevation.
Kick-off and final celebration
Quite apart from all the sweating, the six of us often met for “planning”, as we called having dinner and chatting about Gigathlon. In November, Markus organised an awesome kick-off event, complete with customised Gigathlon cake:
And after all was said and done, Gabriela hosted a review and “thank you, supporters” dinner:
So yes, there were occasions where we didn’t wear spandex.
Gigathlon is a “battle of material”. Just to be able to toe the start line, a lot of equipment has to be around. Apart from small stuff such as a new wetsuit, I had to get two major pieces of equipment: new inline skates and a mountain bike.
I got the inline skates in March 2013 and ended up with fancy Powerslide R4:
And after a lot of deliberation, I went with a cross-country full suspension mountain bike, the Specialized Epic 29er, in May 2013.
Training and racing weekends
It felt like every race and weekend of training was just preparing for Gigathlon, and there was a bunch of it (all in 2013, links to race reports):
January 12: Dietiker Neujahrslauf kicked off the racing season.
January 19/20: Markus organised a snow sports weekend in Filisur. There was some cross-country skiing:
And an epic snowshoeing tour, blessed by cozy mountain weather:
March 2: I immersed myself in Norwegian culture and tried classic style cross-country skiing at Svanstulrennet.
March 10: Trying to reap the benefits of frequent training in Norway, I participated in the Engadin Skimarathon.
March 23: A few weeks before Boston, I raced the 10 km Swiss Championships in Uster.
April 19-28: I recovered from Boston and did nothing, but the rest of the Triple Couple project was at the ASVZ triathlon camp in Giverola, Spain.
May 4: SOLA relay race with TV Oerlikon, where I got to do my “favourite” leg again!
May 10-12: ASVZ tri weekend Ticino with half of the TriCo people:
May 18: GP Bern to kick off a three day TriCo sports weekend, including
May 19/20: training weekend in Biel. We had a look at the Biennathlon skating course and tested the MTB course of Gigathlon’s day six with an epic eight hour tour:
Followed by missing a train due to the pizza guy being too slow, but then again, waiting for the next train was awesome due to said pizza.
The following day, we checked out the Biennathlon MTB course.
June 2: Reaping the benefits from all the course reconnaissance, we raced Biennathlon in great weather – just after the region had been hit by serious rainfalls and the whole starting area had to be moved.
June 8: To get a taste of multi day racing, we did Zumiker Lauf on Saturday, followed by
June 9: Thurathlon, which was pretty much like one day of Gigathlon.
June 15/16: More MTB course reconnaissance! We had a look at the course of day four (around Stanserhorn):
We enjoyed great views from our accommodation (pictured: Grosser and Kleiner Mythen, as well as Kleiner Benjamin):
There was a short run after the first day of mountain biking:
And all was topped off by sleeping in hay, wich was surprisingly comfortable!
On the second day, we did the MTB course of day three, including some saddle adjustments:
And finally, all came together in the Gigathlon week in July, where we effectively crossed Switzerland from east to west:
At one point, we had to determine who would do what during Gigathlon. Deliberations started as early as at the kick-off meeting:
And more plans were hatched during the snow sports weekend:
It wasn’t simple. There were boundary conditions given by the organisers such as “the person doing the inline leg on day five must also swim” or “road bike and inline or inline and MTB on day three must be done by the same person”. Then there were wishes, as in “I really want do die while riding over Susten Pass” or “I am very slow running uphill, give me the mountain stage of day one”. And finally, every day should be as balanced as possible, just like the overall load of the week.
Obviously, I wrote a Matlab script to generate all valid combinations and then sort them by total estimated difference in racing time per day:
The biggest source of uncertainty were the estimates of how long each leg would take us, but thanks to an elaborate spreadsheet prepared by running and football data guru Roger Kaufmann, we had something to work with and base our decisions on some data.
Once the race drew closer, the whole supporter organisation wanted to be set up. Markus created a fancy seven page general plan with everything spelled out:
This and a daily coordination meeting in the evenings led to a completely problem free race week.
After the race, it was time to geek out over the generated data. Who placed where, in which percentile of the field, what was the quota of women racing the leg, and so on.
And finally, a comparison of what we estimated our total times would be with what they actually were:
The “Ist” columns shows the time actually required, and “Soll” has our estimates. I’d say, 28 and 10 minutes off over almost thirty hours for a week was pretty close!
This concludes what I wanted to write about Gigathlon last year. There are still a few race reports to be written, but that was the big one!